Friday, October 13, 2017

I believe that the men of this age [...] think too much about the state of nations and the situation of the world [...] We are not kings, we are not senators. Let us beware lest, while we torture ourselves in vain about the fate of Europe, we neglect either Verona or Oxford. In the poor man who knocks at my door, in my ailing mother, in the young man who seeks my advice, the Lord Himself is present: therefore let us wash His feet.

-The Latin Letters of C.S. Lewis (March 27, 1948)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

For starters, let’s take Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) hylemorphic dualism. The A-T view is that the intellect is immaterial, but that sensation and imagination are not. Hence it is no surprise at all that neuroscience has discovered various neural correlates of mental imagery and the varieties of perceptual experience. Moreover, A-T holds that though intellect is immaterial, its operation requires the presence of the images or “phantasms” of the imagination. Hence it is no surprise that neural damage can affect even the functioning of the intellect. Most importantly, the soul, of which intellect, sensation, and imagination are all powers, is not a complete substance in its own right in the first place, but rather the form of the body. The way intellectual and volitional activity relates to a particular human action is, accordingly, not to be understood on the model of billiard ball causation, but rather as the formal-cum-final causal side of a single event of which the relevant physiological processes are the material-cum-efficient causal side. That alterations to the body have mental consequences is thus no more surprising than the fact that altering the chalk marks that make up a triangle drawn on a chalkboard affects how well the marks instantiate the form of triangularity. It is important to emphasize that none of this involves any sort of retreat from some stronger form of dualism, as a way of accommodating the discoveries of contemporary neuroscience; it is what A-T has always said about the relationship between soul and body. There is absolutely nothing in modern neuroscience that need trouble the A-T hylemorphic dualist in the slightest.
-Edward Feser [source]

Monday, October 9, 2017


From a blog post by Edward Feser:
To be sure, Walters also appeals to the role “higher biblical criticism” has had in leading some theologians away from identifying the God of the Bible with the God of the philosophers, though he suspects that I “would probably see it as yet another symptom of the modern malaise.” Exactly right. I consider much of modern biblical “scholarship” totally worthless. Bad enough is the false methodological naturalism it simply takes for granted without any serious philosophical argumentation whatsoever. (Bultmann’s famously glib dismissal of supernaturalism as out of place in the “age of the wireless” has long been an object of ridicule among Christian philosophers, and the philosophical acumen of biblical scholars since his time hasn’t gotten any better.) But there is also the ludicrous methodology of boldly reconstructing hypothetical texts, indeed hypothetical texts within hypothetical texts, identifying hypothetical oral traditions and the like underlying these hypothetical texts, reconstructing the theology and ethos of the “communities” who allegedly produced these purported traditions and texts, and then confidently claiming to have discovered on the basis of this set of fantasies what e.g. the historical Jesus (and/or the original “Jesus movement”) “really” believed. What is amazing is not that traditional Christian belief has survived in the face of this “challenge”; what is amazing is that this preposterous pseudo-historical method ever survived the laugh test in the first place. To paraphrase Rowan Atkinson, I wouldn’t trust the average modernist biblical scholar to sit down the right way on a toilet seat.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Note that on the classical theist view of ultimate explanation, there are no inexplicable “brute facts.”  Things that require causes require them because they have potentials that need to be actualized and parts that need to be combined.  To say of a thing that it has parts and yet lacks any cause which accounts for their combination, or has potentiality yet lacks any cause which actualized that potentiality, would be to make of it a “brute fact.”  But that is precisely what the classical theist does not say about the ultimate cause of things.  It says instead that, since it is purely actual (and thus devoid of potentials that could be actualized) and absolutely simple (and thus devoid of parts that could be combined), it not only need not have a cause but could not in principle have had one.  It, and it alone, has its source of intelligibility in itself rather than in some external cause.
-Edward Feser

Thursday, June 8, 2017

“When a politician boasts that he loves the poor, find out how much of his capital he has given to the poor.”

-Archbishop Fulton Sheen (On Being Human)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Love it when a visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses' begins with my opinion on the Four Horsemen,. My answer;,. 'I truly believe that the 2nd incarnation was the best, Flair, Anderson, Barry Windham and Tully Blanchard..' The look on the Witnesses face? Priceless!"
-My friend Marco

Friday, May 5, 2017

I just looked at the synonyms for "rigid," and saw "unyielding." That made me think of all of those "unyielding" individuals who won't let go of the 1970s; cling to the memory of dissident clergy and religious; and won't give up on tired, over-worn, and failed ideologies.
-Commenter on this Facebook post

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A spirit of license makes a man refuse to commit himself to any standards. The right time is the way he sets his watch. The yardstick has the number of inches that he wills it to have. Liberty becomes license, and unbounded license leads to unbounded tyranny. When society reaches this stage, and there is no standard of right and wrong outside of the individual himself, then the individual is defenseless against the onslaught of cruder and more violent men who proclaim their own subjective sense of values. Once my idea of morality is just as good as your idea of morality, then the morality that is going to prevail is the morality that is stronger.
-Fulton Sheen (On Being Human)
(H/T to commenter on this Facebook post.)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

All masses are re-enactments of Calvary. Unfortunately, some are so in more ways than one.
-Commenter bill912 on Jimmy Akin's blog

Friday, March 31, 2017

Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the "Cause," in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, politics, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours- and the more "religious" (on those terms), the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.
-The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

Monday, March 27, 2017

If university faculties are not in the business of TRUTH -- if they are, as many not only admit but boast, in the business of political action, then the people as such have no stake in their continued existence, just as the people can survive without this or that other political action committee.

I understand, though I do not agree with it, the rationale for denying to a church its tax-exempt status if the pastor should turn his pulpit into a regular political soapbox. I'd like to note, though, that what applies to the occasional political objurgations of the minister must apply in spades to the constant, planned, and usually highly partisan political activities of teachers and professors.

Three things, moreover, make the politicizing of the lectern worse than that of the pulpit. First, the teacher has a captive audience, and has the power to make miserable the lives of those who dare to oppose his politics. Second, the teacher -- at a public school, or at any but a small handful of colleges -- is taking the taxpayer's money. Third, the preacher AS a preacher may in certain circumstances have a duty to urge his congregation to act in the world in ways that he deems to be required by their faith; but that is not the job of the teacher, who can claim no authority delegated to him from God, or from the state, for that matter.

I see that many of the departments and programs at my school are dedicated, as they themselves claim, to the producing of political activists. Why should Joe the Carpenter have to pay a single dollar toward the salaries of the professors? He does not have to pay a dollar toward the salaries of the heads of the DNC or the RNC ..
-Anthony Esolen
H/T Leila Miller (via Nicole DeMille)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Dogmas may fly out at the window but congregations do not come in at the door."

When "the failure of the Churches" is discussed in public print, our well-meaning advisers always insist, with a somewhat wearying reiteration, on the need for a more comprehensive Christianity, which shall get away from forms and ceremonies, from dogmas and creeds, and shall concentrate its attention upon those elementary principles of life and devotion which all Christians have at heart. Each prophet who thus enlightens us makes the curious assumption, apparently, that he is the first person who has ever suggested anything of the kind. As a matter of fact, the brazen lungs of Fleet Street have been shouting these same directions at us for a quarter of a century past. And have "the Churches" taken no notice? On the contrary, as I have suggested above, the pilots of our storm-tossed denominations have lost no opportunity of lightening ship by jettisoning every point of doctrine that seemed questionable, and therefore unessential; hell has been abolished, and sin very nearly; the Old Testament is never alluded to but with a torrent of disclaimers, and miracle with an apologetic grimace. Preachers of the rival sects have exchanged pulpits; "joint services" have been held on occasions of public importance; even the inauguration of a new Anglican cathedral cannot take place nowadays without a fraternisation of the Christianities. In hundreds of churches and chapels everything has been done that could be done to meet this modern latitudinarian demand. And the result?

 The result is that as long as a man is a good preacher, a good organiser, or an arresting personality, he can always achieve a certain local following; and among this local following a reputation for broad-mindedness stands him in good stead. But the ordinary man who does not go to church is quite unaffected by the process. He thinks no better of Christianity for its efforts to be undogmatic. It is not that he makes any articulate reply to these overtures; he simply ignores them. Nothing, I believe, has contributed more powerfully to the recent successes of the "Anglo-Catholic" movement than the conviction, gradually borne in upon the clergy, that the latitudinarian appeal, as a matter of experience, does not attract. Dogmas may fly out at the window but congregations do not come in at the door.
-Ronald Knox, The Belief of Catholics
(H/T Nicole DeMille)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

If religion meant anything at all it meant that the whole man worshiped, mind and body alike . . . There was some reassurance when I discovered that the good, brilliant, acutely sane Ronald Knox had found himself running, on several occasions, to visit the Blessed Sacrament.
-Alec Guinness

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

John Henry Newman on "Poisoning the Wells"

(Incidentally, with this passage Newman apparently coined the term as applied to this particular fallacy)

[...] I wish to impute nothing worse to Kingsley than that he has been furiously carried away by his feelings. But what shall I say of the upshot of all this talk of my economies and equivocations and the like? What is the precise work which it is directed to effect? I am at war with him; but there is such a thing as legitimate warfare: war has its laws; there are things which may fairly be done, and things which may not be done. I say it with shame and with stern sorrow;—he has attempted a great transgression; he has attempted (as I may call it) to poison the wells [...]

[...] what I insist upon here, now that I am bringing this portion of my discussion to a close, is this unmanly attempt of his, in his concluding pages, to cut the ground from under my feet;—to poison by anticipation the public mind against me, John Henry Newman, and to infuse into the imaginations of my readers, suspicion and mistrust of every thing that I may say in reply to him. This I call poisoning the wells.

"I am henceforth in doubt and fear," he says, "as much as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write. How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation? ... What proof have I, that by 'mean it? I never said it!' Dr. Newman does not signify, 'I did not say it, but I did mean it'?"

Well, I can only say, that, if his taunt is to take effect, I am but wasting my time in saying a word in answer to his foul calumnies; and this is precisely what he knows and intends to be its fruit. I can hardly get myself to protest against a method of controversy so base and cruel, lest in doing so, I should be violating my self-respect and self-possession; but most base and most cruel it is. We all know how our imagination runs away with us, how suddenly and at what a pace;—the saying, "Caesar's wife should not be suspected," is an instance of what I mean. The habitual prejudice, the humour of the moment, is the turning-point which leads us to read a defence in a good sense or a bad. We interpret it by our antecedent impressions. The very same sentiments, according as our jealousy is or is not awake, or our aversion stimulated, are tokens of truth or of dissimulation and pretence. There is a story of a sane person being by mistake shut up in the wards of a Lunatic Asylum, and that, when he pleaded his cause to some strangers visiting the establishment, the only remark he elicited in answer was, "How naturally he talks! you would think he was in his senses." Controversies should be decided by the reason; is it legitimate warfare to appeal to the misgivings of the public mind and to its dislikings? Any how, if Mr. Kingsley is able thus to practise upon my readers, the more I succeed, the less will be my success. If I am natural, he will tell them, "Ars est celare artem;" if I am convincing, he will suggest that I am an able logician; if I show warmth, I am acting the indignant innocent; if I am calm, I am thereby detected as a smooth hypocrite; if I clear up difficulties, I am too plausible and perfect to be true. The more triumphant are my statements, the more certain will be my defeat.
-John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864) [bold type emphasis mine]